Victoria, BC (February 19, 2019) – “Significant new funding for child and youth mental health and substance use services will begin to fill the huge gap that exists between the needs of BC’s children, youth and young adults, and available services, and support implementation of the Province’s anticipated child & youth mental health plan,” said Kendra Milne, Senior Director, Policy and Planning of the Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division. “We know that many mental health and substance use problems arise in childhood or youth and it is a key time to ensure we support kids and young people to thrive and be well – these new investments have the potential to improve lifelong outcomes for kids who need them.”
CMHA BC highlights the Province’s investment of $74 million over three years, starting with $18 million in 2019-2020, which in addition to anticipated federal funding through the Federal Health Funding Agreement, has the potential to support a robust and significant provincial child & youth mental health and substance use plan. This funding is focused on early childhood wellness, mental health for school-age children and increased access for mental health and addictions services. The Province’s Child and Youth and Adult Mental Health and Substance Use strategies, with more details around spending specifics, are expected in the coming months.
“Together with historic action on childhood poverty through the BC Child Opportunity Benefit, we are seeing a significant commitment to addressing mental health and wellness earlier in life, said Milne. “We know that income is a crucial driver of mental health, and the new Child Opportunity Benefit, childcare investments, modest increases to disability assistance and income assistance, and improvements to support family members caring for a foster child or an adult with a disability are all significant. We look forward to seeing the anticipated Provincial Poverty Reduction plan next month to learn more.”
Budget 2019 does not contain clear funding commitments to implement the anticipated adult mental health and substance use plan. “CMHA BC looks forward to seeing the adult plan and funding details about how the plan will be successfully implemented,” said Milne. “People across British Columbia tell us every day there is desperate need for a coordinated, comprehensive system of mental health and substance use services for adults. We encourage British Columbians to continue to speak out for the right to mental health.”
Key Facts on mental health and substance use in BC Budget 2019
Mental health and substance use services funding
- $74 million over three years for mental health and addictions services for children, youth and young adults, distributed as $18 million in 2019-2020, $26 million in 2020-2021 and $30 million in 2021-2022.
- We expect this funding will be used to implement the Province’s Child and Youth Mental Health and Substance Use strategy, which expected in the coming months.
- This is in addition to federal funding through the Federal Health Funding Agreement which may target child and youth mental health services.
- This funding is focused on
- Parent-child social and emotional development programs for young children
- School based programs for mental wellness promotion, prevention and early intervention for students at risk or experiencing early signs of mental health or substance use challenges
- Specialized service teams comprised of educators, counsellors, mental health practitioners, substance use workers and other professionals to support children, youth and their families
- Expansion of Foundry centres serving children and youth aged 12-25
- $30 million over three years for increased support for the opioid emergency response
- The Child & Youth and Adult Mental Health & Substance Use Strategies are expected in the coming months
- Budget 2019 does not contain clear funding commitments to implement the anticipated adult mental health and substance use plan
Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions
- The Ministry continues to receive approximately $10 million for coordination, policy & planning
Support for determinants of mental health
- A new Child Opportunity Benefit replaces the previous early childhood tax benefit with significantly higher income supports particularly for families with incomes under $25,000. The income threshold is reduced to include fewer families.
- A modest income to income assistance and disability assistance rates of $50 per month
- Removing barriers to access income and disability assistance through the BC Employment Assistance Program, including:
- Helping clients obtain personal identification
- Aligning the definition of spouse to other benefit programs to ensure fairness in the level of support couples and individuals receive
- Extending the shelter rate to those paying room and board to a family member
- Continued last year’s announcements around access to affordable housing and childcare
This post originally appeared on CMHA BC Division’s website